Court refuses to defer by-election

KUWAIT: The administrative court yesterday rejected a petition calling to postpone a by-election to elect two MPs in the second and third constituencies, which fell vacant after two lawmakers were stripped of their seats. The petition asked the court to postpone the election scheduled for Saturday until another court rules in a case challenging the interior ministry’s decision to not update the electoral rolls. After announcing March 16 as the date for the by-election, the interior ministry cancelled the annual update of the electoral lists – which normally takes place in the month of February – because of the by-election.

MPs and activists criticized the ministry’s action and demanded legislation to plug the legal loophole, while some filed a lawsuit at the court to force the ministry to update the electoral lists before the election date. About 47 candidates, including some ex-MPs, are competing for the two seats held by former Islamist opposition MPs Jamaan Al-Harbash and Waleed Al-Tabtabaei, which were declared vacant after the court of cassation jailed them for taking part in storming the National Assembly building in late 2011.

In another development, MP Omar Al-Tabtabaei yesterday criticized some fellow lawmakers for using their influence to pass some illegal matters and the government for not stopping them. Tabtabaei was commenting on a letter reportedly sent by members of the medical council, who claimed that they had been subjected to political pressure and intimidation by some MPs to make illegal decisions.

The lawmaker said he learnt that secretaries of some MPs have threatened members of the medical council if they do not take the illegal decisions they had asked them to make. Tabtabaei described such actions as blatant corruption and called on the ministers to stop them, adding that he had informed the health minister of such incidents. Meanwhile, the health ministry denied any medical council members had been suspended after signing that letter. The ministry also said it has formed an internal committee to investigate the issue.